A former pastor who wrote a bestselling book on traditional relationships has confirmed the end of his marriage, apologized for opposing LGBTQ rights and announced he is no longer a Christian.
Joshua Harris’ book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” which railed against sex before marriage and homosexuality, sold over 1 million copies and became a fixture in Christian youth groups after coming out 22 years ago.
But Harris now says the 1997 work “contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry,” and that he has “undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus.”
Writing on Instagram, he added: “By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”
“I have lived in repentance for the past several years — repenting of my self-righteousness, my fear-based approach to life, the teaching of my books, my views of women in the church, and my approach to parenting to name a few,” Harris wrote in the post.
“To the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality. I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry. I hope you can forgive me,” he went on.
Harris previously confirmed his divorce in a separate post last week, announcing the end of his 21-year marriage after realizing that “significant changes have taken place in both of us”.
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His book encouraged young people to avoid dating and remain celibate before marriage. It includes numerous sections on the dangers of lust, such as one in which Harris wrote: “Lust is a problem. And God hates it. So should you.”
The book also featured a passage in which Harris described being “checked out” by three gay men. “I’ll never forget the anger and disgust I felt at that moment,” he wrote. “It was so wrong, so filthy.”
Harris has disavowed his book on a handful of occasions in recent years, including during a 2017 TEDx Talk called “Strong Enough to be Wrong.”
He wrote a handful of other books, including “Sex is Not the Problem (Lust is)” and “Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship.”